I’ve always been a band-guy more than a solo artist-guy. I think bands are way, way cooler than solo artists. But I can totally understand why a some dude in a band would want to go solo every now and then. If you want to release music that is really different to the band you’re in, then more power. But I really don’t understand why you wanna do a solo album that sounds exactly your band, unless you hate your band members’ guts or something. Especially if you’re the main song writer in said band. I think you might know where I’m going with this. See, Tom Keifer – Mr Cinderella – released four albums with his band Cinderella between 1986 – 1994 and on those records, Keifer wrote 90% av all the songs. After a long hiatus, Cinderella are now back playing together again and what all Cinderella fans want is a new album, of course. But instead we got a Tom Keifer solo album. Sure, this album had been in the works for many years and was a long time coming, so I guess it was just the timing that felt weird. Here are Cinderella back out touring and we get a Kiefer solo record… Now, I’m not gonna say that his album – The Way Life Goes (2013, reviewed here) – is a carbon copy of Cinderella, but it sure isn’t that different either. Well, be that as it may, the album was a total killer and Cinderella had proven to be a fantastic live band the two times I have seen them, so to get a ticket for Keifer’s debut solo gig was really a no-brainer. The fact that he would mix Cinderella tunes with songs off his solo album made going to this concert the easiest decision ever. Both at Sweden Rock and when Cinderella played their own show in Stockholm in 2011, the first couple of songs, Tom’s voice sounded horrible, like he needed a warm-up badly but didn’t bother. Knowing that Tom have had major problems with his vocal chords, surgery and all, I was worried that his vocal problems would continue the whole set through, but luckily enough it didn’t. After the third song, everything was fine. This was popping up in the back of my head this night as well – would Tom still be affected by those problems or would he manage to nail it from go this time? Singing does not get easier with age and he’s not getting any younger – he’s 54 – and he has a tendency to sing really high.
The small crowd – 250 people maybe (not bad for a Monday night gig) – let through a loud cheer when the intro riff to “Bad Seamstress Blues” started, a slide guitar blues intro that goes directly into “Falling Apart At The Seems” on the album Long Cold Winter (1988) and it does that this night as well. The crowd is with Tom and his band right from the start and this groovy blues based rocker hits home on the spot. “It’s Not Enough” from his solo album kicks off right away and I’m not sure how many of the audience has purchased or even heard that album, but judging by the reaction, people knew it – and liked it. Another solo song – the Aerosmith smelling ballad “A Different Light” – followed and this groovy ballad went down really well. A brilliant track that would have been a hit in a fair world. “Somebody Save Me” (Night Songs, 1986) has always been a live killer with Cinderella and it kills tonight as well and when “Shake Me” from the same record breaks loose, the small crowd goes wild. After all, this was Cinderella’s first hit. Sitting down, Tom and the band gives us the country scented ballad “Heartbreak Station” and Tom gets some major help from us in the audience to sing it. I love that song and tonight I got the goosebumps from it. “The Flower Song” from his solo album is also a ballad albeit one with a bit more speed and groove and it goes down really well. I remember how pissed off I was with Aerosmith when they played Sweden Rock Festival and they gave us a ballad marathon – that made me leave their show. Well, Tom is about to do the same thing because next up is “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)” (Long Cold Winter), but this time, I just keep on smiling. Normally Tom’s wife Savannah sing it with him, but she was at their Nashville home after surgery on the vocal chords. Looks like it runs in the family… Anyway, the crowd got to sing her part while Tom put her on the phone – and boy how we sang! More goosebumps. Next up – “Nobody’s Fool”. A ballad! Again, I don’t care. I just sing my throat off to the killer chorus. See, Cinderella never wrote any of the usual 80’s cheese-ballads, their ballads were always powerful with big chunk of blues. That’s why four ballads in a row never even got close to boring! “Solid Ground” is the first single off Tom’s solo record and it is one of the most Cinderella-like songs on that album. This song would have fitted like a glove on Heartbreak Station. I don’t even have to mention that the song went down like a storm, right? “Night Songs” was always Cinderella’s most metal tune and live it is heavy as Hell – worked like a charm. “Coming Home” (Long Cold Winter), their acoustic pop/blues groover is made for a live gig and sure enough, we all swing along. The guys end the set with one of their best songs, “Shelter Me” (Heartbreak Station, 1990), one of the grooviest rockers ever written. This is Cinderella, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Aerosmith all in one and it’s a total winner every time. They come back for an encore with Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll” and listening to this it’s easy to hear where Tom has gotten most of his inspiration from. It’s a killer song in original and Tom and his band make a brilliant version of it. The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” is one of the most outworn songs in history, but the thing is, I think The Beatles’ version does the weakest version. I mean, it’s not exactly arousing to hear Ringo Starr sing. Keifer’s version is great and is more reminiscent of Joe Cocker’s hit although this one is heavier and it is really cool to hear Tom sing in his low register for once. A whole new voice comes out and it stands clear that he’s a very underrated singer. The whole thing ends with “Gypsy Road” (Long Cold Winter), not Cinderella’s biggest hit, but probably their biggest classic. The place explodes and Tom and the guys walks off the stage as winners.
Anything to complain about, maybe? Well, actually no! There was lots of Cinderella songs played, that was expected, but I really love Keifer’s solo album and I would have loved a couple more from that album instead of the covers. I know that the band love to mess about with covers, but I always think that they are throw aways, even when they are delivered in a killer way like tonight’s covers. I also think it could have been fun to lift some more obscure Cinderella stuff now that he’s touring as a solo artist and therefore all the “musts” are left in Cinderella’s rehearsal room. “Sick For The Cure”, “One For Rock And Roll”, “Nothing For Nothing”, “Take Me Back” or maybe something from their last and very underrated 1994 album Still Climbing. But these are mere thoughts than any real criticism. The band is a worth a mention as well – and then some. Guitarist Tony Higbee turned out to be a real rock with lots of soul and emotion and so good that Tom let him take some of the solos. Bass player Billy Mercer did a great job, keeping the rhythm intact, but he could work more on his stage act. Sometimes he managed to look almost bored which really should be impossible in this massive groove. Speaking of groove, say hello to drummer Paul Simmons (where’s Gene Stanley…?) who kept the beat, steady as a rock with a killer swing. On keyboards we found ex – Winger and Alice Cooper keysman Paul Taylor, a guy with shitloads of routine and a feel for swing, so he fits the band like a glove. Vocally, this band is a joy to hear. Tom’s voice sounds great again and the band’s backing vocals is astonishing. They all can sing very well and the addition of a back-up vocals girl (whose name I managed to miss, sorry…) made the whole thing rise even more. If Tom Keifer is playing your town or somewhere close by – don’t miss. Don’t. Miss!
1. Bad Seamstress Blues / Falling Apart At The Seems
2. It’s Not Enough
3. A Different Light
4. Somebody Save Me
5. Shake Me
6. Heartbreak Station
7. The Flower Song
8. Don’t Know What You Got (‘Til It’s Gone)
9. Nobody’s Fool
10. Solid Ground
11. Night Songs
12. Coming Home
13. Shelter Me
14. It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It)
15. With A Little Help From My Friends
16. Gypsy Road